I am a Rotarian, and there are many times when I wish the Church was more like Rotary. Rotary is a social and humanitarian organization and the Church is the Body of Christ, our Lord’s physical presence in the world through which God works toward the Kingdom of God. How much more should the Church embody these characteristics of Rotary. Scott Bowerman, the pastor of New Kirk Presbyterian Church in Blythewood, S.C., deserves credit (found in The Presbyterian Outlook, July 9, 2012 edition, p.27) for these observations which I affirm from my experience as a Rotarian for almost 19 years, and observing my father’s connection with Rotary for more than 50 years.
Universality – Rotary International is at work in more than 100 countries around the world. Growing up, my family became hosts to Rotarians from India and several other countries, and I just visited the Perth Kinnoull club in Perth, Scotland, last week. Rotary clubs are known for diversity and understanding.
Hospitality – Guests are recognized and applauded and banners are exchanged to take back to our home clubs. I was more warmly welcomed and included in activities in the Perth Club than I am in many churches. Unconditional hospitality calls us to be the world leaders, following the example of Jesus, in extending welcome to guests.
Mission – Rotary supports a wide variety of causes and charities, but the eradication of polio has been the big, hairy, audacious goal which is almost achieved with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matching grants. This vision of polio-free world grabs my hopes, and encourages me to proclaim, “I’m helping wipe out polio!.” Can you tell me what our mission is and why it grabs you? How are you helping us change the world through First Presbyterian Church?
Values – The Four-Way Test of Rotary guides everything a Rotarian says and does: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? How are you living the values of disciples of Jesus Christ: welcoming unconditionally, worshiping passionately, growing faithfully, serving boldly, and giving extravagantly?
Commitment – Rotary requires weekly attendance. If a member misses a meeting, he or she is expected to make it up at another club. Each member is assessed dues and expected to participate in club activities to raise money for the mission of the club. All members of Rotary are by definition active members who attend, contribute and serve. How do you show your commitment to First Presbyterian?
The Church is not Rotary. But I believe we sure could learn from it.